(NEW YORK) -- A Manhattan federal jury has cleared the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to stand trial in a civilian court of all but one major count in a 286-count indictment.
The verdict found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was alleged to have participated in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Africa, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property with explosives, a charge that can carry 20 years to life.
A 2001 superseding indictment had charged Ghailani of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans anywhere in the world. It also brought charges of murder for the deaths of each of the 224 people killed in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and various other offenses related to the bombings.
The verdict could be a severe setback for the Obama administration’s goal of trying the GITMO detainees in civilian courts rather than before military tribunals.
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan did not allow a key government witness to testify in part because of allegations of torture and how they might have impacted the witness testimony. He ruled that the witness was arrested after information was obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques.
Ghailani, who had been held since September 2006 at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was transferred to New York in June 2009 to face trial in a civilian court.
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